I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Namie Amuro -- Chase the Chance

When it came to musical life during my first few years living in the Tokyo area during the mid-90s, the two big names that come from my memory are Dreams Come True and Tetsuya Komuro(小室哲哉). As for the latter, the Komuro Family had a big piece of the attention pie for several of those years, and the spearhead was Namie Amuro(安室奈美恵)from Okinawa. The very first time I saw her was on a commercial plugging a Super Monkeys (her old group) single, "Try Me" which was released in early 1995. She was already decked out in the fashion that would attract millions of followers known as Amurers: dyed hair, pencil-thin eyebrows, platform shoes, etc.

I even saw her on an old Fuji-TV kids' show called "Ponkikkis"on weekday mornings as one-half of the Sister Rabbits along with singer/tarento Ran Ran Suzuki. Dressed up in gray rabbit outfits, they sang a variation on "I've Been Working on the Railroad"; would've loved to have found a video on YouTube but alas it's not there.

But it wasn't until close to the end of the year that one of her songs got my attention. It was "Chase the Chance", her 4th single as a solo artist. She was no rabbit anymore. Tetsuya Komuro was behind the song, a warp-speed dance-pop hit with Amuro rapping in the middle. What's not to love? It was the theme song for an NTV drama known as "The Chef" (think of Osamu Tezuka's Blackjack wielding a meat cleaver rather than a scalpel) that I saw in reruns, and when I heard the theme at the end, it was time for me to go CD shopping.

Released in December 1995, it debuted at No.1 on Oricon (her first song to do so) and sold over 1.5 million singles. It would become the 10th-ranking song for 1996 but before that, Amuro was able to make her first appearance on the Kohaku Utagassen on December 31 1995 singing "Chase the Chance". The song also made it onto her album, "Sweet 19 Blues" which was released in July 1996 and became the 2nd-highest selling album of the year, selling almost 4 million copies.

Namie Amuro -- Chase the Chance


  1. I'm a huge fan of Tetsuya Komuro. In general, his songs are very energetic and dance-oriented, which is alwayas a good thing for me.

    Of course, the girls he produced were part of the magic. As for Namie Amuro, "Chase the Chance", is, for sure, one of her finest singles. The catchy chorus mixed with the funky instrumental resulted in this great pop hit.

    Alongside "Chase the Chance", I really enjoy the synth-heavy "Body Feels EXIT" and the ballad "I HAVE NEVER SEEN".

    Althought I don't consider Namie the best vocalist of the so-called "TK Family", she surely had some great charisma and cuteness.

    I don't know if you enjoy other girls produced by Komuro at this time, like Ryoko Shinohara, hitomi and Tomomi Kahala. I must confess to you that they were far better vocalists than Namie, but, unlike her, they couldn't sustain the same success in the music industry. Recently, I've been in love with the work of these three girls, specially Ryoko Shinohara.

  2. Evening, Bode.

    Along with Amuro, I also liked listening to a bit of Globe and Tomomi Kahala, and of course, trf. I remember Ryoko Shinohara for her debut song but I can't quite remember the title. However, I do remember distinctly when our university club showed the video to the song at a weekly presentation of J-dramas back in the early 90s. We had quite a few guys coming in to take a look.

    I can agree that Amuro has had the longest success. She's still releasing songs, and considering a lot of the personal stress she's gone through over the years, she's probably one of the toughest people in show business.

  3. Ryoko Shinohara is a very beautiful lady. Maybe you heard "Itoshisa to Setsunasa to Kokoro Tsuyosa to". It was the theme song for the "Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie" and it sold over 1,600,000 copies back in 1994, becoming the third best-selling single of the year. To date, the single has sold over 2 million copies. It was, of course, produced by Tetsuya Komuro.

    Yeah, Amuro has gone through a lot. I don't like her R&B/hip-pop stuff, but, recently, she started doing electro/dance material again, which is a good thing for me. And her voice became a lot more mature and sexy than in her TK days. That's something that comes with the time and training, of course.

    As a side note, I don't know exactly, but I thing she is in the point of her career that TV performances aren't needed anymore. Althought her releases are very successful (specially her albums), she doesn't go promoting the songs on TV shows, like Music Station or Hey! Hey Hey!. I think of it as a backlash against the time she was selling poorly and were not invited to the TV shows. So, now that she doesn't need it, she probably refuses the invitations.

    I'm just guessing this, but I think it makes sense.

  4. Yeah, I think the theme song for "Street Fighter II" was the one whose video we showed. The last time I saw Shinohara was when she played a tough-as-nails cop on "Unfair" in Japan. And then there were her appearances as a regular on the old comedy-variety show with Downtown, "Downtown Gottsu Ee Kanji" on Sunday nights.

    My interest in Amuro went as far as "A Walk in the Park", and then I think she had her maternity leave. After that, my interest subsided.

    I think after any star, including Amuro, reaches a certain level of success in his/her career in Japan, he/she hits escape velocity, so to speak, so that the constant need to appear on TV is no longer necessary. The singer's reps only need to mention that a new song is coming out for people to head out to the CD shops or download it. And even if that singer's musical relevancy starts to slowly wane, by that time, there are other challenges and opportunities (such as books or businesses)for him/her. Certainly, I think Seiko Matsuda and perhaps even Dreams Come True are examples.

    At the same time, there are artists out there such as Misia, Yumi Matsutoya and Miyuki Nakajima who've never really needed TV, although Nakajima has done some commercials recently and Matsutoya did a small weekly gig for about a year on the Fuji-TV morning news broadcasts.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.